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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
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I got stopped for shoplifting a $12 item at Menards two months

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I got stopped for shoplifting a $12 item at Menards two months ago. They made me sign a trespass paper and photocopied my drivers license. I thought that was the end of it. Yesterday I received a letter asking me to pay a civil claim of $50 for punitive damages to their corporate headquarters. I have no problem paying this fee. However, in this letter it says "take notice that your settlement of our claim against you by payment of the amount demanded in this letter does not prevent local authorities from proceeding with a criminal prosecution." Is this a form letter sent to everyone, including those where the police were called to the scene? Or, does this mean that Menards is now going to file a claim of theft with the police from two months ago?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

That's the letter sent to everyone. It just means that, even if police were called and decided to pursue criminal charges, they would still want the $50 fee from you. That's because shoplifting is both a civil and a criminal matter. The store can choose to file a police report, sue for conversion (the civil name for theft) or both. If police were not called to the scene when this happened, it is unlikely that the store would file a police report now. They usually won't, if the civil claim is paid.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I guess what I'm most concerned about is, what if Menards decided to change their mind after I left and called the police in the last two months? I was told, at the time, that if I signed the trespass letter that they would not call the police. However, I have an anxious need to make sure that they don't end up doing this for some reason--like, once it got filed with corporate that corporate will do it even though the store security said they wouldn't. Or, what if the manager changed and the new manager decided to do this. Or, what if they lay some kind of blanket policy after 6 months that says that they will now prosecute everyone who has ever been caught for the last six months? I have NEVER had any problem with the law--not even a speeding ticket. When this singular incident happened I had just experienced some severe trauma and was clearly not in my right mind. And, after caught, I spent an hour on their floor crying. My 5 year old daughter was with me, too. So, I would HOPE that they would stick to their words, but, you never know. And I am petrified that this will become an issue with me trying to find employment in the future, reputation, etc. Is there any way that I can relax about this knowing that this should be the end of it? I am afraid to call the store or corporate for fear that this may trigger them changing their minds.

You can ask if they will sign something agreeing not to file a police report if one has not already been filed. Sending the civil penalty should be the end of it, but a signed agreement may give you additional peace of mind. It is more likely that they would file a police report if you ignore the letter or do nothing than simply calling to talk to them about it.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

what is the statute of limitations on how long the store can wait to call the police? I am in MN....can they still call the police after a year? Also, on the trespass sheet, they said that I can no longer enter ANY Menards stores EVER. Can they literally ban me for life? Lastly, I am too afraid to call and ask for that letter. I just want this behind me. Do you think I need to do that, or do you think that I'm probably ok?

The statute of limitations refers to how long the police have to file charges. For a misdemeanor, that's three years. But the longer they wait, the less likely it is that they're going to do anything. If police were not called at the time, it's not likely that they would file a police report after you pay the requested civil penalty. You've already signed something admitting guilt, so they have the evidence they needed if they really wanted to contact police.

They unfortunately are allowed to ban you from the store for life. All businesses have the right to decline service to anyone they wish, at their discretion.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If, after a year, I wrote a letter to the manager and asked to be allowed in the store again, and aplogized etc., do you think this would have an impact and they may reconsider? Or, could this harm me in any way--meaning, cause them to decide to file a claim or something like that.

I don't really think they'd file a police report just because you asked to be let back in the store. However, if you're really concerned that such a letter would cause additional problems, you may prefer to wait until the statute of limitations has expired.